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Lee County to Expand Jail

Lee County - Sheriff - Jail - 500.jpg

Lee County will add more beds to its jail to account for a growing population.

The facility can house up to 14 female inmates, but the Board of Supervisors has approved a plan to boost capacity to 32.

Sheriff Jim Sholl says the expansion is a necessity because his options are limited when the female population exceeds 14.

He says the additional inmates must either be transported to a nearby jail, at a price that can jump at any time, or housed in a cell block assigned to male inmates.

Sholl says the block would then be off-limits to male inmates, further reducing the total bed count.

The expansion is expected to cost about $450,000, but there is no money in the budget to pay for it.  That means borrowing the money could be an option.

Supervisor Gary Folluo voted against the expansion.  He was concerned that there was not enough public input or discussion about the proposal.

Project Manager John Hanson says construction would not get underway until all of the materials are purchased to limit the amount of time inmates would be displaced.

He says that could be 3-4 months.

The jail was expanded roughly two years ago.  The contractors added the infrastructure required for expansion to make the process of shifting from 96 to 144 beds easier.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.